Shut the Doors

Pesachim (5:5) | Yisrael Bankier | 10 years ago

In the fifth chapter, we learn how all the Korbanot Pesach were offered. The fifth Mishnah teaches that those that came to offer their korban were divided into three groups. The strategy was based on the following pasuk: “and the entire congregation (kahal) of the assembly (adat) of Israel shall slaughter it in the afternoon” (Shemot 12:6).

R’ Yitzchak in the Gemara (Pesachim 64b) explains that each of the references of kahal, adat and yisrael suggest ten people (see the Maharsha). However there is a doubt whether the three groups should come together or one after the other. That being the case, at a minimum, if there are fifty people, thirty should come in the first group, with ten each in the next two groups, in order to satisfy both sides of the doubt.

The Rambam rules (Korban Pesach 1:11) that if there were less than fifty people or if everyone offered the korbanot at once then the korbanot are valid. The Torah Temima explains that the reason for organising everyone in this manner was simply as a hidur mitzvah (beautifying the mitzvah); as such it would not prevent the mitzvah from occurring.

The Mishnah continues that after the first group entered, the doors of the azarah were closed. Abaye understood that the doors closed on their own miraculously, while Rava argued that they were closed manually so as not to rely on miracles. The Maharsha raised a difficulty. According to Abaye, if the doors closed miraculously, there should have been no reason for a doubt about how those offering the Korbanot should have been organised. People could have simply entered until the doors closed. While the Maharsha leaves the question unanswered, he writes that it can be resolved.

The Tifferet Yisrael points out that even though the doors were closed, they had to be reopened when the Korbanot were slaughtered, otherwise the Korbanot would have been invalid. He directs to the Tosfot Yom Tov (Tamid 3:7) to support this law. Furthermore he rejects the possibility that having the doors closed during slaughter was a special law for korban Pesach. Other than there being no source for such a suggestion the Gemara (88b) appears preclude this possibility. There it is suggested that if one had a doubt if they were obligated to bring a korban pesach, one could bring a korban a stipulate that if he was obligated to bring a korban pesach then the korban is indeed so, otherwise it is a shlamim. If the doors had to open for a shlamim and had to be closed for a korban pesach, then such a tenai would not work. Consequently the doors were only closed momentarily as a heiker to separate between the groups.

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